The city of Barcelona was founded in the late 1st cent. B.C. as the Roman colony Barcino, although its origins go back to the end of the Bronze Age.
In over 4,000 years of history, it has been dominated by Laietani, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Christians and Muslims, who have left us a rich historical and cultural heritage.
The ancient Barcino is the most immediate precedent to the modern city of Barcelona. The city centre was surrounded by walls with 4 entrance gates, and covered an area of 10 hectares. Today, in addition to fragments of the wall, you can see many traces of this ancient Roman colony such as the Roman Temple (late 1st cent. B.C.), in Calle Paradis, the Roman Sepulchral Way (1st-3rd centuries B.C.) in the Plaza ViIla de Madrid, defensive towers (4th cent. A.D.) in Calle del Correu Vell and in Plaza Ramon Berenguer, Roman aqueducts (1st cent. B.C.) in Plaza Nova, the crafts district, the Museum of the City’s History (2nd to 4th centuries) in Plaza del Rey and the episcopal group of buildings (4th to 8th centuries).
Following the Medieval expansion, the Gothic city grew around Plaza de Sant Jaume. Throughout the neighbourhood one can see remains of the wall, and among the most important monuments there is the Generalitat building (Palau de la Generalitat, regional seat of government), the City Hall building (Palacio del Ayuntamiento), Plaza del Rei, Palacio Real Mayor (Grand Royal Palace) building, the Church of Santa Ágata and the Palacio del Archivo de la Corona de Aragón, housing the Archive to the Crown of Aragon.
After the military defeat in the War of Succession, Barcelona experienced economic growth due to the cotton mills and freedom of trade with America. During this time, the Raval and la Rambla areas underwent urban development.
During this period, there were moments of great turmoil because of social and political movements that were appearing across Spain. Urban changes began and the walls of the military Citadel (Ciudadella) were demolished. In 1848 the first railway arrived.
Barcelona in the 19th and 20th centuries
Thanks to the Universal Exhibition, Barcelona not only greatly improved its infrastructure but also achieved great international fame. At the end of 19th cent., many places for recreation and physical activity began to be built, which made Barcelona the capital of Spanish sport.
The years after the war and the Franco regime were a very difficult time for Barcelona, which survived through rationing and the black market.
With the advent of democracy, the cultural and urban renaissance began, and later, holding the 1992 Olympics was the definitive boost for the city’s development.
The Universal Forum of Cultures in 2004 prompted further changes in the city, and the Diagonal Mar district was built. Since then, Barcelona has become a cosmopolitan city of great international prestige.